I’ve always wanted to go to CES but could really never justify the reason for a “trucking technology specialist” to be at a consumer electronics show…until this year. I thought, “This is it! Thanks to autonomous vehicles and the increasing role technology is playing in trucking this is the year I should go to CES.” Boy, was I sadly wrong. And what a shame for the trucking industry.
I went to Vegas wearing two hats. My LaunchIt “let’s find some new start up companies to launch into trucking" hat and my “Trucking Industry Image" hat. The LaunchIt hat did OK. There were quite a few companies I swapped cards with after saying “have you ever thought of getting into the trucking industry?” But the Trucking Industry Image hat was sorely disappointed. If ever trucking wanted the opportunity to showcase that we(the collective body of all that encompass trucking) are hip, cool, “sexy”, understand technology and play a very key role in autonomous vehicles...CES was it. And we blew it!
CES is a massive scene. Like nothing I have ever witnessed before. It encompasses over two and a half MILLION square feet of exhibit space with close to 200,000 attendees. Think of MATS on massive steroids…that’s is CES. An entire hall was dedicated to drones alone. Truly incredible!
Before heading to Vegas I did a quick scan of the “floor plan” (in quotes because it’s not a floor plan as much as its an entire city plan) and found a segment called Vehicle Technology. Perfect! This is where I will go! Mobileye was there as was Rand McNally, but of course neither company showcased anything to do with trucks. I get it though; this is the Consumer Electronic Show, why would a vendor that has paid an insane sum to exhibit at CES showcase anything to do with a commercial industry?
BUT, picture an exhibit area with one of our tricked out autonomous trucks pulling a Trucking Moves America Forward trailer showcasing all of our amazing technologies. That’s what my Trucking Image hat was thinking. If ever we wanted to demonstrate that we have a voice in this Autonomous Race, this was it! We would have had such a captive audience amazed at the opportunity to sit in a truck and see just how "with it" we really are. And sadly, we blew it!
Perhaps by CES 2018 we will get our act together and realize that if our industry wants the respect, the talent pool and the recognition it deserves we will start thinking outside of our comfortable “trucking box” and make our presence known in a more mainstream fashion!
PS. When I saw the Plexiglas tractor in the image I used for this post I was so happy…until I found out the company was just using a “truck” so they could fit more bodies into their demonstration of their autonomous passenger vehicle product. Ugh.